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Contents

Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century

PERSISTENCE OF ORAL TRADITION

Chapter:
CHAPTER 1 The Curtain Goes Up
Source:
MUSIC FROM THE EARLIEST NOTATIONS TO THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY
Author(s):
Richard Taruskin

As scholars are beginning to recognize, the fact that the earliest notations of the canonized liturgy did not communicate actual pitch content shows that no one expected or needed them to do so. In some theoretical treatises of the ninth century, when pitch content needed to be shown, alphabetic notation adapted from the quadrivium treatises was employed. On the other hand, manuscripts with unheighted neumes went on being produced in Frankish monastic centers—even St. Gallen (now in eastern Switzerland), where the earliest surviving neumated antiphoners were inscribed—until the fifteenth century. This shows that the communication of the actual pitch and interval content of liturgical melodies went right on being accomplished by age-old oral/aural methods, that is, by listening, repeating, and memorizing. Most monks (and regular churchgoers, too, until the chant was largely abandoned by the church in the 1960s) still learn their chants that way. Notation did not supersede memory, and never has.

Citation (MLA):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 1 The Curtain Goes Up." The Oxford History of Western Music. Oxford University Press. New York, USA. n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2014. <http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume1/actrade-9780195384819-div1-001011.xml>.
Citation (APA):
Taruskin, R. (n.d.). Chapter 1 The Curtain Goes Up. In Oxford University Press, Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century. New York, USA. Retrieved 23 Oct. 2014, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume1/actrade-9780195384819-div1-001011.xml
Citation (Chicago):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 1 The Curtain Goes Up." In Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century, Oxford University Press. (New York, USA, n.d.). Retrieved 23 Oct. 2014, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume1/actrade-9780195384819-div1-001011.xml
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